A view of the life science building from Acton Street in the newly approved project on the former Cannistraro property on Pleasant Street. (Courtesy of Broder)
The Planning Board approved plans to build a life science cluster on land off of Pleasant Street, but had concerns about the proximity of the project to the residential neighborhood to the north. The hearing at Wednesday night’s meeting was the second for the project, and it lasted more than 3.5 hours. The complex will have add a four-story, 133,324 sq. ft.
These are my opinions, based upon hundreds of conversations, attending numerous City meetings, and making thousands of observations over the past few years. I hope that they can stimulate conversation and help busy Watertown folks focus on some of the current issues. Things to be on the lookout for in 2024, if these City resolutions are not taken to heart by our City Councilors:
1 – Expect the assault on residents’ quality of life to continue:
Short-Term Rentals. That’s where your neighbors are allowed to run an informal hotel business out of their homes right next door to you. (And the City gets to collect a fee).
The master plan for Alexandria Real Estate’s Watertown Mall Transformation was approved by the Planning Board. (Courtesy of Alexandria Real Estate)
The basic plan for remaking a large portion of Arsenal Street, including the Watertown Mall, has been approved by the Planning Board. Before the multiple lab buildings, residential units, retail, and garages can be built, however, developers will have to come back for approval of each building. Almost all of the project falls within Watertown’s Regional Mixed Use District (RMUD), which allows for additional height and density that most of the town but requires a master plan to be approved. On Nov.
By Clyde YoungerWatertown Resident & Candidate for City Council President
I prefix my comments by saying, without any hesitation, the Planning Department must be re organized. It is my firm belief the Department is misleading the citizens of Watertown. The change must begin at the top. I am not saying the Assistant City Manager/Director of Planning and Development should be fired; however, the Buck ends with this position. My recommendation is he should be laterally transferred into a different position within the administration.
Last week was a good week for democracy in Watertown! On Wednesday night there was a meeting of the Committee on Economic Development and Planning in regard to expanding community meetings for big developments in Watertown. Although I think that there could have been a better structure for the meeting, it was still greatly appreciated. And I think that it was nothing but a show of community disrespect for the Director of the Department of Community Development and Planning Steven Magoon to dash off his suggestions at the very last minute, not posting them for the public to review.
On September 21st there was a very important meeting to vote on the WatertownComprehensive Plan, a document that is meant to guide the City’s decisions for the next few years. I guess with a meeting this important and long time coming, I don’t understand why there was any confusion on how it should be conducted. God knows, we’ve had enough time to sort that out. The public was told that they would have time to speak in the beginning and then at the end, after hearing the remarks by the City Councilors and the Planning Board members and before the vote was taken. Because of this, many of us were waiting to hear what was said before we responded.
This may be the shortest letter that you’ll ever see from me. If you want to see an example of an excellent Watertown community meeting, (about 50 Watertown residents in attendance … the day after Labor Day … and lots of insightful comments and probing questions), a meeting that wasn’t supposed to happen, keep an eye out and watch the developer’s meeting for the 10-30 Manley Way project, recorded September 5th. This is an example of why residents should be given an opportunity to speak on all of these projects, not just the brand, spanking new ones. And this is Exhibit A that Watertown residents are knowledgeable people who care about their community and are striving to make our community better while saving us from ourselves. Watch it and be proud! Linda ScottWatertown Resident
A rendering of the building at 10-30 Manley Way proposed to be redeveloped into lab/R&D/non-nuisance manufacturing space. (The Seyon Group)
This letter is about 10-30 Manley Way, but humor me, please, while I get there. With at least 25 bio lab buildings and more on the way in a four square mile area, (Alexandria hasn’t even begun the massive transformation of the Watertown Mall yet).
Here’s a list of just Alexandria’s current holdings in Watertown:
I hear they have their eyes on more Watertown land. Alexandriatown … how does that sound to you?
This is a case of being careful about what you wish for. We have about 70 labs in these buildings so far. There’s plenty of unused lab space without converting one more inch into labs … just my opinion, but it seems to be shared by others.
To give you an example of the enormity of these projects (besides the in-your-face street presentation of them … hello, Galen Street), there’s a permit meeting for a Coolidge Street lab this month to approve a 7,000 gallon oil tank on the roof of a parking garage that will hold 497 cars.